Friday, May 29, 2009

New Post, Zero Pictures

Things are going along great in the veggie garden. I've harvested at least half a dozen zucchini and a mind bogglingly huge amount of chard. I harvested the chard all at one time, which is why it was overwhelming. I heard that the bigger the leaves get, the more bitter the taste.

I've never, to my knowledge, ever eaten cooked chard. The tiny leaves come in common salad mixes, and are not objectionable (or noticable, for that matter). Come to find out, chard is really tasty! What a relief.

The cucumber vines were finally long and strong enough to be trained on the tee-pee. That was my big chore this evening. They were actually too long and close to becoming out of control. There was no more garden for them to be in, so I strung some string between the poles and encouraged them to grow that way. We'll see if they take. Confidential to Susie they were too long! Cucumber leaves give you a rash. Start way earlier next time to you don't have to wrestle with their scratchy leaves! Gosh!

The heat and mosquitoes are in force. It's only going to get worse. My latest strategy is to go out in small increments, doing a little at a time so that the bugs don't find me. It's been somewhat successful so far, though I do have a few bites.

My husband caught a juvenile snake the other night. He trotted right inside, wriggling in his fingers, and dangled it in the room where I was peacefully reading a book. We then established a house rule I never thought I'd make: if you catch a snake, do not bring it inside. okplzthx

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Summer Breeze

The Confederate Jasmine is going crazy in front and the scent is intoxicating.

I can smell it all the way in the back.

I planted two of these and two pink jasmines in the new bed, close to the table. I'm now afraid that in the near future, spring in my back yard will
choke you with the jasmine fragrance. Oh well.

Baby cilantro seedlings. Aren't they cute? They taste really good, remind me in a week to plant some more. I'm going to let a few bolt so I can harvest the seeds for spices and more little cilantro plants. Cilantro is one of my most favorite flavors and I'm very excited that these are growing right now.

Yesterday was the first day I began to feel a little over being outside. Namely because a bug flew in my eye. Then I began to feel itchy and sorta hot. I noticed some mosquitoes, and I was like, Fuck this, I'm going inside.

Mexican Hat.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Pictures! 4/25/09

This is the bed I mentioned in my last post. I covered it with cardboard and mulch a couple of months ago. It worked pretty well! It was still hard to chop out some of the bigger knots of roots, but most everything seemed dead. I managed to get a sunburn, oops. After such a cloudy morning that threatened to rain, it turned out to be a sunny afternoon. Glorious. I got the sunflower and zinnia seeds in. You can barely see the stupid decorative wire fencing I have to put around it to keep the dogs from stomping all over the future delicate seedlings. I'm going to have to watch diligently for weeds, and keep everything moist for the next several weeks.

Here is the cinder block bed. The front three plants are zucchinis. I'm using small tomato cages to get them to grow up instead of out. In the back you can see the bamboo tee pee we created to let the cucumbers grow on. Also up instead of mounded.

I have tiny blossoms on each of the zucchini plants!

Frilly Purple Basil and unknown flower seedlings in some of the cinder block holes. Chuk sprinkled a packet of mixed flower seeds in a few of the holes, and for a while forgot where they were. There are 80-something of these little pots. I have currently forgotten where I planted cilantro seeds the other day. I think I know where, but I'm not sure. So all planting in likely areas is halted until I see sprouts. I need to figure out a way to mark which holes I've planted in, because it's clear I can't count on our memories! I'm excited about the crazy flower seed mix. There are 100 different species, so there is no telling what's going to bloom.

Red swiss chard. I sure love the magenta veins against the red flesh. So pretty. I've also got yellow and cream but this is my favorite. All are doing well so far.

Swiss chard, fennel and tiny cucumbers at the foot of the bamboo tee pee.

I love this vibrant red.

The future mint juleps are doing great!

Volunteer pumpkin - "fairy tale" from last year.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

April 21, 2009 - Update

Sunday was such a pretty day, I couldn't resist a trip to Barton Springs Nursery. While there, I just couldn't say no to several plants. They simply had to come home with me.

For the pepper bed:
Habaneros - 2
Jalapenos - 6
Mulato Pepper - 1. Not a very PC name, but the flavor description is intriguing
Cucumbers "Straight Eight" - 6.

I'm so glad I had to go grab the cucumber tag, those guys were looking pretty thirsty. Yes, I broke the you-buy-it-you-plant-it rule because Chuk asked me to buy everything above, except for the mulato pepper, which I thought sounded interesting. So I figure that stuff doesn't count because they're technically under Chuk's care. That's fair, right?

For the cinder block bed:
Swiss chard - 3, one of each color - red, yellow and cream colored ribs
A purple ruffle basil, which is so pretty. I hope it can handle the heat.
Cilantro seeds - a big packet. for sowing in the extra pots you get when you put cinder blocks on their sides. I'll do that in 3 week intervals as recommended. I love cilantro, it's one of my most favorite smells and flavors. But I've grown it before, and it really can get overly pungent as it gets older and kind of gross. It would be neat to see if I can get coriander seeds though.

Mexican Hibiscus
Artemisia absinthium
orangey-red impatiens

Gifted to me:
Two pads from a GIANT prickly pear in a friend's yard, which I foolishly handled while a little tipsy, and couldn't for the life of me figure out where the tiny splinter in my finger came from later. I stuck them in pots of dirt until I can figure out what to do with them permanently.

Cactus Flower - Giant Fantasy
Peppermint Stick

Flash Blend
Mammoth Russian

One of this weekend's projects is to uncover the bed we did two years ago that I never planted and shamefully let get overgrown with pernicious weeds. My Mom and a dear friend helped me get that corner somewhat under control. We weeded one bed and cardboarded and mulched it to staunch the horrible Johnson Grass. It's worked great so far, and the weeds that are coming up are having to work really hard which makes them easy pickings. The other bed that I let go fallow has been covered for over a month so I'm thinking with minimal work I can get the old grass out of there and the zinnia and sunflower seeds in.

But now that I look at those Mammoth Russian sunflowers, I might want to clear another place by the fence out to put those monsters! They'll get 6 to 10 feet tall! That would be so cool.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Soggy Means Snails

We've had several days of glorious, soaking rain. It not only slakes the thirst of the parched, drought-blighted earth, but washes the evil oak pollen out of the air and subsequently out of my nasal passages. Stupid trees make me sneeze and want to claw my face off.

A quick cruise through our various beds this morning confirms that the snails have been having a big ol' party. They decapitated nearly all of my marigolds. I thought marigolds were meant to keep pests away, not entice them.

I suspect tonight will be a good snail hunting night. Ever gone on a snail hunt? Grab a bucket and a flashlight and start looking for the creeps and plop them one by one in your bucket. Empty bucket in neighbor's yard across the street. What? They don't ha
ve a garden! It's better than mass murder, right? (I've done that too, I'll spare the details).

When the ground dries, we'll sprinkle some more Sluggo around which we've been assured is organic and non-toxic to pets and other creatures in the garden. Chuk had success with it last year in his pepper garden, and I'm already tired of decapitated marigolds, so I'm going to give it a try in my herb/ornamental beds.

This year we are experimenting with a cinder block bed. In it I've got some zucchini, eggplant, yard long beans (which are looking a little punier than the Kentucky Wonder Beans in Chuk's pepper garden), a few headless marigolds, and plenty of room for more herbs.

So far so good in the cinder block bed, although I have a sneaking suspicion that Chuk may have used too much peat moss when filling it in with dirt. I'm waiting until it gets really hot to decide if it's too much. It may work better in the dead of summer to keep moisture in.

I'm tempted to go to the nursery today, but since the ground is way too soft to work with, I wouldn't be able to buy anything. This year I have a strict rule that I will not buy a plant unless it goes in the ground that very day. Period, no exceptions. I have killed many plants by letting them suffer in pots, eventually forgetting about them until I notice they're just pathetic sticks.

So far, I've planted:
Bachelor Buttons
Red Penta
Texas Star Hibiscus
Firecracker Plant

Chocolate Mint
Variegated Pineapple Mint
Corsican Mint
Purple Sage
Greek Oregano
Lemon Thyme
English Thyme
Sweet Globe Basil
Cinnamon Basil
Purple basil

Some kind of eggplant
Some kind of zucchini
Yard long beans (red not green)

I've also started a new ornamental bed which I will fill with jasmine and moonflowers. I need to cut back the ligustrum that blocks a good portion of the morning light first though. But I'm not allowed to use the chain saw. I'm accident prone. :o)